One of the hard parts of my job is losing a minister either because they no longer feel needed or it’s just time for them to try something new. It’s almost like losing a friend or even breaking up with someone. There’s the temptation to get angry at them because in a way it feels like rejection and then you get angry at yourself because you don’t know if you could have done something different. But if you give yourself time and ask for God’s patience, you begin to understand why.
The worst thing we can do as youth workers is burn bridges with former ministers (I know I’m guilty of this) we need to make sure it’s done on good terms, so below I have a few steps to a healthy goodbye.
- Exit Interview: This is a basic business practice. You always want to get insight as to why the person leaves, even if it’s on good terms. It’s like doing a review with a new minister except this time you get to see what their overall perspective was of the ministry. If you can do this face to face that’s key, if they feel a little embarrassed to see you again (I’ve had people dodge me at supermarkets), just ask them a few questions via email.
- Offer Them Another Ministry: They may tell you they no longer can serve due to time constrictions; however, their real reason may be because they just aren’t feeling it. You should never set up your student ministry as the only place to serve in the church. Ask them about their passions, ask them if they would be interested in serving another age group, ask them if they have ever considered a different area. This shows them that you appreciate their gifts and talents and that you want them to fulfill God’s desire for them to serve.
- Keep Them Updated: Keep them updated especially if they leave on good terms. They may not support the ministry through service; however, they may help you out in another way down the line. Some of my former ministers are my biggest advocates, they give financially to the student programs, they pray for the student programs, they even defend it if needed. Keep them updated on how things are going, they’ll love to know.
Breaking up is hard. It’s not easy saying goodbye. But it’s important to make a sad situation into a positive experience.
What do you do as a youth pastor to make sure ministers leave on good terms?